During the second innings of the final of the 1983 cricket World Cup, West Indies batsman Vivian Richards found himself face-to-face with Indian all-rounder Madan Lal for the second time that innings. A few overs earlier, Richards had hit three of Lal’s deliveries to the boundary. This was the over in which Richards miscalculated, and Kapil Dev, playing off Lal’s delivery, took his now-famous running-catch. Lal took 17 wickets that tournament. In this essay from Vimal Kumar’s The Cricket Fanatics Essential Guide, Lal returns to his time on the 1983 squad and also sends out words of encouragement to the current team.
25 June 1983 was such an incredible day of our lives. Cricket was always a major sport in this country ever since I started playing serious cricket, but it achieved the status of a mass game only after the first World Cup championship won by our team. There are countless memorable moments from the Prudential World Cup, yet three images are indelible and unforgettable.
The first is of Kapil Dev with the trophy at Lord’s;the second is of the players getting their medals; and the third, of course, is of the wicket of Vivian Richards.
That ball has been so profound. In the last three decades, I have spoken so much about that famous ball alone that a book could have been written by now! Anyway, there is no doubt that Richards’s dismissal has been my moment of cricketing immortality. I bowled close to 10,000 balls in international cricket and never imagined that one ball would be spoken of a million times!
Over the last few years, I have come to realize that no matter what we do or where we go in our lives, we (our team) will always be remembered and defined by the ’83 victory, and I by that Richards dismissal. Years later, whenever Richards met me, he teased me lightheartedly: ‘Stay away from me, maan! I don’t want to see you!’ Truth be told, Viv was one of the few batsmen that I feared bowling to. His was a massive and intimidating presence. The kind of damage Ricky Ponting inflicted on the Indian team in the 2003 World Cup final, Richards would have easily done to us on that day. Of course, I did ask my captain to give me an extended spell against him when he was hitting all of us all over the park; however, it wasn’t so much from confidence but more from a typical Punjabi josh (vigour) that I could do the job. Nobody can claim or predict that he would get rid of someone like Richards at will or in a planned way, but I believe that it was our day!